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Stories From Cancer Survivors: Cancer Was A Gift

Cancer Was A Gift

My name is Eric Farlow and I am a survivor of AML Leukemia. I have been in remission for 10 years. I was diagnosed the day before my twelfth birthday, and it has forever changed me and helped shape who I am today. I now see it as a gift that I did not want at the time and that I would never wish upon anyone, but has taught me valuable lessons about life and about myself. 

I learned that your life is 10% what happens to you, and 90% your attitude. I learned a lot about death because there were constantly kids that I would meet who were going through my same situation and would end up passing away. This helped me form a very unique perspective on death that has really helped me, in turn, understand life. Realizing that my friends are dying and that I could just as easily follow showed me that I was mortal than ever. It was a morbid feeling watching how children my age would just come and go. One day they would be in front of me and be alive and smiling and then the next day be completely nonexistent and then buried. Sometimes I would ask where someone was and why I hadn’t seen them in a few days and sometimes it was because they were discharged and I was in chemo or asleep when they left. I would never see them again, but knowing that they made it out alive was comforting. However, the nurses and doctors would always give me very roundabout answers when I would ask where friends Mo or Ralph was. They didn’t want to tell me that they died, in fear of discouraging me or sending me into depression. This really drilled the concept into me that people will come and go in my life.

Sometimes because they have died, and sometimes because their time in my life has come to an end and that is just as beautiful as the fact that they came into that. That concept transitions perfectly onto another lesson I learned that may just be me, and maybe nobody will understand it, but whatever. I also learned that happiness and sadness are equals. Happiness sends endorphin hormones that tell our body that “happy is good” and Sadness releases stress hormones that says, “Sad is bad”. We need light just like we need dark. We don’t appreciate sunny days very much unless we have rainy days. I am thankful for the low lows because they have given me higher peaks of joy and gratitude for my life today. 

 

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